April 3, 1902

FIRST READING.


Bill (No. 89) to incorporate the Canada Central Railway Company.-Mr. Scott.


THE MONTREAL BRIDGE COMPANY.

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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. R. BICKERDIKE (Montreal, St. Lawrence) moved :

That that portion of the fourth report of the Select Standing Committee on Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines which refers to Bill (No. 38) respecting the Montreal Bridge Company, be referred back to the said committee for further consideration.

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LIB

Thomas Osborne Davis

Liberal

Mr. T. O. DAVIS (Saskatchewan).

When this Bill came before the committee the other morning it was defeated by a large majority. I would like some explanation from the hon. gentleman of the reason he is asking to have it reinstated on the Order Paper.

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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE.

The only explanation I have to give is that the gentleman from Montreal who was promoting the Bill is anxious to be heard before the committee. It was one o'clock when the vote was taken in the committee, and there was not sufficient time to discuss it fairly ; and the people in Montreal whom he represents would like an opportunity of being heard.

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LIB

William Scott Maclaren

Liberal

Mr. W. S. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

I was present in the Railway Committee when the Bill came up. I do not know anything about the merits of the several schemes for bridges proposed to be built between Montreal and the south shore ; but I did think we had not got sufficient information with regard to the matter. There seemed to be an inclination on the part of the members of the committee to hurry matters through, and I think it would be only fair that the promoters of that company should have an opportunity of at least fairly laying their case before the committee before the committee makes its decision. There were very few members present at the time, it was near the close of the sitting ; other matters of importance had come up, and

after each member got through with the matter he was particularly interested in, he left the committee, as is usually the case in that committee, and only a few of those who are in the habit of waiting until the committee rises were left to look after the remaining part of the business. The consequence was that when the Bill came before the committee I do not think it was fairly considered, and I am in favour of the motion to refer it back to the Railway Committee to be dealt with again.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. R. LEMIEUX (Gaspe).

I happened to be present in the committee when this Bill was discussed yesterday morning, and the vote which was taken there shows that a great deal of attention was given to the explanations of Mr. Buchan, the representative of the Montreal Bridge Company. The vote taken stood 41 to 11 or 12, so a large number of the members of the committee were present and listened to the discussion. I do not want to discuss the merits of the Bill now, but it is well known in Montreal, and in the Montreal district especially, that it is nothing else but another Armstrong scheme. It has not the confidence of the people of Montreal, and should be defeated.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. D. MONK (Jacques Cartier).

I am happy to support the motion of the hon. member for the St. Lawrence division of Montreal (Mr. Bickerdike), whom we are very glad to see back in this House after his severe illness. I do not think this Bill received due consideration at the hands of the committee, and I am surprised that my hon. friend from Gaspe (Mr. Lemieux), whose name i think appears on the Bill, should now be opposed to the motion to give it further consideration.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIECJX.

I refused positively. 1 was asked to introduce the Bill in the House. I asked who the promoters were. I wanted to know if Mr. Armstrong had anything to do with it. I was not given any satisfactory explanation, and now I know that Mr. Armstrong is the backbone of the Bill.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I understood my hon. friend was the mover of the Bill. Who is the mover of the Bill ?

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

I think the hon. member for Ottawa is (Mr. Belcourt).

Mr. jfoNK. At any rate what struck me was this ; this company was incorporated in 1800, but for various reasons it has not proceeded with the work. It was alleged before the committee that the present promoters were serious men. The name of one of them is well known throughout this country, Mr. Henry Hogan, of Montreal. Another of the promoters is the Hon. Mr. Ber-thiaume, proprietor of ' La Pressed I am sure that these are names which will commend themselves to the House. We were told that the project had the very strongest possible backing from some wealthy American capitalists. We were given no occasion

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LIB

William Scott Maclaren

Liberal

Mr. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

to find out who these men were, but it was alleged by a most respectable lawyer from Montreal who was there to speak in favour of the Bill that not less than $50,000 had been spent in preliminary surveys. An offer was made to present the proof of that allegation. Plans have been completed. They are not on their way to completion. I am now taking the statement that was made before the committee. The question of a bridge below Montreal is one which interests in a very high degree not only the population of Montreal but the population of the surrounding counties and particularly the population of the county which lies immediately to the south of Montreal. My hon. friend from Chambly and Vercheres (Mr. Geoffrion) supported us in the desire we evinced to have that measure fully discussed. There were two reasons why the Bill was disposed of in this summary manner and no opportunity given, in a matter of this kind where a most desirable expenditure of $10,000,000 was contemplated in Montreal, to the party who was defending the Bill to adduce proof of his allegation. The reasons given were most futile. I submit. We were told there was another project, that there was on the Order Paper lower down a Bill to incorporate a company having for its object the construction of a similar bridge. Into the merits of the allegation we had no occasion to go at all, and there was no reason for the statement that Mr. Armstrong was connected with this company or this enterprise. I submit to this House, that whatever may be the shortcomings of Mr. Armstrong, what we are concerned with is not Mr. Armstrong, who may have personal enemies on either side of the House, but the seriousness of the enterprise, and whether Mr. Armstrong is connected with it or not does not matter to us provided there are men interested in it who are capable of carrying out the enterprise. This allegation of Mr. Armstrong's interest in the enterprise, Mr. Buchan, the lawyer from Montreal, who is promoting the Bill, offered to refute ; in fact, if I remember rightly, he stated before the committee that any interest that Mr. Armstrong might have had in the company had now disappeared, that he was no more a shareholder and I have been informed that there is proof of that. Well, if Mr. Armstrong, objectionable or not, has no Interest in the Bill, if it can be established before the committee that he is no more a shareholder in that company and if the parties whom I have already named are really willing to go on with the enterprise, why should we throw out this Bill without giving it any study when the promoters are merely asking for an extension of time, a favour which is asked from this House and granted every day ? In fact, I believe that this morning the committee granted that favour reporting favourably on a Bill extending the time for beginning operations when the time had actually

lapsed, whereas, iu this instance, it had not. As I have already stated this is a project which interests to a very high degree the people of Montreal and all we ask is that the different Bills may be considered at the same time, so that the committee may judge of the merits of these different Bills. 1 think this is a fair request and should be granted.

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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman

Liberal

Mr. C. S. HYMAN (London).

Sir. Speaker, as chairman of the committee which had the consideration of this Bill, I have, only to say that I think it was a very fair representation of the committee that was present when this Bill was taken up and that it was fully discussed. There were over sixty members of the committee present and the vote on the Bill was something like 41 to 17. Mr. Buchan who was promoting the Bill had every opportunity of addressing the committee. The committee extended to him the courtesy of allowing him to address it and he did so most fully. It is quite true that just before one o'clock there was some question as to Mr. Buchan's again addressing the committee. I did not refuse Mr. Buchan permission but the committee had the matter fully before it and by a vote it was decided not to hear Mr. Buchan further. There was still an other reason for the action of the committee. There was a member of the committee present who addressed the committee against the Bill and who, I understand, is the owner of 1,700 shares out of something like 2,500 shares in the undertaking. He spoke very strongly against the Bill, and I think in a case of that kind a gentleman holding such an interest in the company as that ought to have very good reasons for not desiring the Bill to be further considered. It does seem to me that there should be a fair rule laid down in regard to a matter of this kind. If an lion, member makes a motion of this kind and has nothing new to lay before the House, a Bill should not be sent back to a committee for reconsideration. The Bill has been most fully considered. I am not speaking against the Bill ; I am merely stating what occurred. I think it would be a fair rule for the House to carry out that unless there is something new to be laid before the House, a Bill should not be sent back to a committee simply on the request of a member. I trust the hon. members of the House will take into consideration the fact that the committee fully discussed the Bill before arriving at the decision at which it did arrive.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

May I ask the hon. gentleman (Mr. Hyman) if he is aware that there was no opportunity given to Mr. Buchan to establish, what he alleged, that Mr. Armstrong had no more interest in that company ?

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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

I have only to say that that fact was referred to a number of times. Mr. Buchan had an opportunity of referring

to it and of refuting the statement, but he did not have it at the particular time he asked for. That is all. He had every opportunity before one o'clock but at the last moment he wanted to discuss the matter again.

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CON

David Tisdale

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. DAVID TISDALE (South Norfolk).

I think that possibly a matter which was referred to a committee and voted upon will bear a little further explanation to give those hon. members of the House who were not present in the committee an opportunity of understanding the exact position. I maj say for myself that I knew nothing of the merits of this Bill. It was an ordinary Bill for a renewal of time. This happens to be a bridge. I think there have been three or four bridge charters renewed already during this session under the same circumstances but the bridges were not across the same river. Further than that there has been a number of railway charters extended, and it was rather a surpi'ise to myself when it came up in the committee that an ordinary application for a renewal of a charter of this sort should meet with such strong opposition. The only opposition to this Bill mentioned in the committee, was that there was another application for a charter lower down on the list, covering precisely the same project. Then it was mentioned that a gentleman named Armstrong was connected with this scheme. The members from Montreal and the neighbourhood seem to know Mr. Armstrong better than I do, and I take it for granted from what they said, that there might be objections to him. However, that may be, I moved, as I thought it was only fair to do, that this Bill be deferred and be considered with the second Bill of a similar kind so that the committee could have the advantage of hearing the particulars regarding both of the projects. For the first time in my memory which extends over a long connection with the Railway Committee, that proposition was opposed, and to my surprise it was rejected by a vote of forty against seventeen. I submit that that was not fair consideration of the Bill. Most of us were entirely ignorant of the merits of either of the Bills, but never the less, without one tittle of explanation the Bill was thrown out. Surely the Railway Committee will not subscribe to the proposition that they should kill a charter simply on the statement that there is another charter to be considered later covering the same project. My hon. friend (Mr. Monk) has mentioned three very good names who are backing this Bill, and I regret that the gentlemen behind the other charter would not allow us to hear any explanation about this one. It should be remembered that the committee declined to allow a gentleman by the name of Buchan, who was a complete stranger to me, to answer statements made in the committee. It is true that he explained the scheme, but he ex-

plained it very moderately and very briefly, and wben I moved that he should be heard in reply to statements made by the other side, the committee absolutely refused to allow Mr. Buchan to speak. Much as I dislike to oppose any finding of the Railway Committee, yet after an experience of fifteen years, I can say that this is a very peculiar case and that the entire circumstances surrounding it warrant us in asking that the Bill be referred back to the committee, because there undoubtedly was not a full consideration of it.

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LIB

Joseph Alexandre Camille Madore

Liberal

Mr. J. A. C. MADORE (Hochelaga).

I rise to endorse what has been stated by the chairman of the Railway Committee (Mr. Hyman). I made the motion in the committee which killed this Bill, and I see no reason in the world why it should be sent back for further consideration. Speaking for myself personally, as well as for those whom I represent, we have no objection that the Bill should be sent back, because we know very well that when the committee have heard full explanations from both sides they would not for a moment think of passing this charter of the Montreal Bridge Company to extend the time for the building of that bridge. But the question arises : Is there any reason why the Railway Committee of this House should waste its time in reconsidering that Bill which has already been killed ? Mr. Buchan was heard in support of his Bill. Every member of the committee who was present knows that Mr. Buchan spoke twice on the subject, and it was only when he rose to ask leave to speak a third time, and after one o'clock, that the members of the committee expressed the opinion that they were fully informed on the subject, and that they did not need any more information. Mr. Buchan has no reason to complain. He has been very well treated, and every reason he could give has been given by him. The hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) has stated that the only reason why the Bill was killed was because the name of Mr. Armstrong was mentioned in connection with it. That is not exactly the case. It is not Mr. Armstrong alone who has made application for this charter, but it is the Montreal Bridge Company,, which is composed' of a number of gentlemen. They were granted their charter in 1890, and since that time they have made no serious effort to begin the work. Under the charter of 1890, they bound themselves to commence to build the bridge within three years, and to have it completed within seven years. The three years elapsed and they did not move. They even waited until the expiration of the seven years for the completion of the bridge, and then they came back to this parliament asking for an extension of time. I claim that when in 1897, they got that extension of time their charter had actually lapsed, because they had not complied with the provisions in the charter which required them Hon. Mr. TISDALE.

to commence the bridge within three years. However that may be, this parliament in 1897 granted an extension of five years to the Montreal Bridge Company to complete the bridge. Since that time they have never moved. There is not an inch of work done to-day. My hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) stated that they have spent about $50,000, but the fact is that there has not been a cent spent since 1890. Before 1890, plans were prepared and these were the very plans that were produced before the committee. There is not a word of proof that they have incurred one dollar of expense since 1890. In view of the fact that parliament has already granted the Montreal Bridge Company two extensions of time, is it reasonable that parliament should again extend their charter to have it there as an embarrassment in the way of another company who seriously undertake to build the bridge ? We know very well in Montreal the reason why this application has now been made to parliament. We know very well that it is because certain difficulties have arisen between the Grand Trunk Railway Company, the South Shore Railway Company, and the New York Central Railway Company with regard to running rights over the Victoria bridge. These companies do no longer agree with the Grand Trunk Railway as regards the terms on which the Victoria bridge should be used by them, and so the American capitalists interested in these companies have decided to build a bridge of their own. When Mr. Armstrong heard this, then he made an application to have the charter renewed so that he might perpetuate the embarrassment to others which his charter has caused ever since 1890. Had that charter not been extended in 1897, the bridge between Longeuil and Montreal would have been completed long ago by responsible people who are willing and able to build it. But so long as the other charter was in existence the people on both sides of the river expected that the bridge would be constructed, and men who really desired to build a bridge did not like to embark in the enterprise. Now that Mr. Armstrong and some others connected with him see that enterprising people are ready to construct a bridge, they want purely and simply to blackmail them in order to compel them to buy that charter. That is the reason why parliament is asked now to grant a further extension of the charter. I do not believe that this House will be a party to that deal, and that the Bill which has been killed will remain killed.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

Might I ask the hon. gentleman a question ? If the facts are so much against this company as he states, what objection has he to this Bill being considered at the same time as his own Bill ?

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LIB

Joseph Alexandre Camille Madore

Liberal

Mr. MADORE.

That is exactly what 1 have stated, that, as far as I am concerned and the people I represent, we have no

objection; but it is a question for this House, whether we are going to lose the time of the committee for the pleasure of Mr. Armstrong and company.

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April 3, 1902